The environment minister, Therese Coffey has announced the government wants to introduce new powers for the Environment Agency (EA) to lock the gates or block access to problem waste sites, in order to prevent thousands of tonnes of waste illegally building up.
According to Defra, the powers will also enable the EA to force operators to clear all the waste at a problem waste site, not just the illegal waste.
The government has also launched a new public consultation on tackling crime and poor performance in the waste sector, which proposes giving local authorities the option of fining those whose waste ends up fly-tipped or illegally dumped rather than having to pursue them through the courts.
‘These new powers for the Environment Agency will curb the rise of waste sites that continue to operate outside the law,’ said Ms Coffey.
‘But we must all take responsibility for our waste to make sure it does not end up in the hands of criminals who will wilfully dump it.
‘Our new consultation looks more widely at the waste sector and we are keen to hear from industry and the public how we can improve performance, tackle illegality and protect our precious environment,’ added the minister.
The latest official statistics show that some of the worst hit areas include London which saw over 360,000 fly-tipping incidents last year and the North West of England which saw 128,000 incidents in 2016-17.
And the EA discovered more than 850 new illegal waste sites last year.
The Local Government Association’s environment spokesperson, Cllr Martin Tett said it was pleased the government has ‘pledged to crack down on illegal waste and fly-tipping’.
‘We were pleased the government responded to our call for councils to be able to apply fixed penalty notices to fly-tippers – and this was a big step in the right direction,’ said Cllr Tett.
‘But when they take offenders to court, councils need a faster and more effective legal system which means fly-tippers are given hard-hitting fines for more serious offences.
‘The government should also consider asking manufacturers to provide more take-back services so people can hand in old furniture and mattresses when they buy new ones,’ he added.
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